Table of Contents
December Case Placements
New Faces at MVLS
Get a 50% State Tax Credit in 2015
Join MVLS' Sustainers Circle
Story of the Month
FY14 Annual Report is Available Online
Save the Date for our "March Madness" Themed Benefit and Save 10% on Early Bird Tickets
Free Tax Sale Training for Attorneys
New Consumer Protection Project Clinic
MVLS is Hiring
Free Webinar on Unbundled Legal Services
Pro Bono/IOLTA Reports Due February 15
2014 Pro Bono Year in Review and a Look Forward to 2015
MVLS has moved offices

Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization. 

You can ensure access to justice for low-income Marylanders by making a tax-deductible donation today!


Interested in taking a pro bono case?  We're looking for volunteers for the following cases:

Long-Term Care Appeal 
Elderly Client is currently receiving care at a nursing home in Baltimore. She was placed there on September 11, 2014 after being assaulted at a homeless shelter early in September and sustaining injuries to her leg and shoulder, and a hematoma to her head. The nursing home wanted Client to leave on September 20, 2014 because they alleged she was not taking her medication. Client claims they are giving her the wrong medication. Client also claims she cannot climb stairs during physical therapy. Client has submitted an appeal and would like assistance in staying at this facility. Also, the facility wants Client to sign paperwork so that they can take her social security payment. Client understands she will have to pay full rate for the room. Attorney will need to get additional documentation from client regarding the appeals. To assist MVLS client, Case No. 14-0107843contact Jessica Rich  at 443-451-4069 or

Client seeks assistance with filing for divorce. Parties were married in September 1971 and have been separated for over 20 years. There are neither children nor a marital home involved. Both parties' names are on the deed to a plot of land worth about $70,000, which the client would like to split equally with the Other Party. Client is disabled and currently residing in a nursing home. Nothing has yet been filed. To assist MVLS client, Case No. 14-0106994contact Makeisha Gibson  at 443-451 4072 or


Following audit of his 2012 income tax return as to EITC, dependency exemptions, filing status and CTC, TP owes IRS $4,246.00. The taxpayer (TP) is father of child. Separation agreement states that father was to claim child in 2012 but, based on IRS communication, it appears that child lived with >50% of the year with mother and mother did not provide form 8332 or similar statement. TP needs help resolving this matter.  If you'd like to help client #14-0106496, email Cheri Wendt-Taczak.


Not on our volunteer panel?  Click below to learn how to become an MVLS volunteer.

December Case Placements    
73 MVLS volunteers helped 103 clients last month by accepting a pro bono case or volunteering a clinic. The names of these volunteers are listed on our Facebook page. 

Please join us in thanking these individuals for their exceptional work on behalf of our clients by liking or commenting on the post.  Don't forget to like our page once you're there.


 Like us on Facebook

New Faces at MVLS

MVLS Welcomes Two New Board Members
MVLS Board Member
Patricia Bosse

The board of directors of MVLS is pleased to announce that Patricia Bosse and Gretchen Klebasko were elected to the board on November 19, 2014.  


Patricia (Pat) Bosse currently serves as vice president for advancement and marketing at Notre Dame of Maryland University, Baltimore. As chief advancement and marketing officer, she led the institution through a successful campaign and is providing executive leadership to a second - more than $62 million has been raised for endowment, capital and annual support for the institution during her tenure. Ms. Bosse's experience in higher education also includes seven years as vice president at St. Mary's Seminary & University, Baltimore, MD, where she completed campaigns to build and endow a Conference Center and expand an internationally recognized theological library.


Early in her career, Ms. Bosse gained experience in healthcare at St. Joseph Medical Center, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore, and Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore.


Ms Bosse has served on a variety of secondary and college/university boards and advisory committees, and is very proud to serve as a director on the board of the Faraja School for Handicapped Children in Tanzania, East Africa. Ms. Bosse and her husband raised their three children, Kristen (27), Sarah (25) and Danny (21) in their rustic 1773 fieldstone house in Harford County, MD.

MVLS Board Member Gretchen Klebasko

Gretchen Klebasko currently serves as Managing Director of Intellectual Property & Associate General Counsel at Legg Mason.  Previously, Ms. Klebasko worked as a Litigation Associate for Saul Ewing LLP in Baltimore, Maryland. While at Saul Ewing, she worked on complex litigation matters and also arbitrated broker-dealer cases before the NASD (now FINRA). 


After joining Legg Mason in 2004, Ms. Klebasko managed a litigation docket until 2008, when she was appointed Director of Intellectual Property for the Legg Mason organization and was tasked with the responsibility of developing a comprehensive intellectual property program for the company. Her team handles matters involving copyrights, trademarks, domains, cyber-crime, and social networking for the parent company and its investment advisory affiliates around the world.


Ms. Klebasko received a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Mary's College of Maryland and obtained her Juris Doctor, with honors, from the University of Maryland. 


Prior to becoming a lawyer, she worked as an Environmental Scientist with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, focusing on organic chemistry and microbiology. Ms. Klebasko resides in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, with her husband and two young children.

MVLS Welcomes Two New Staff Members


Monica Fulwood


Please join us in welcoming Monica Fulwood and LaKisha Overton to the MVLS team  Monica and LaKisha joined MVLS in January as intake paralegals.


Monica graduated from Stevenson University in 2013 with a B.S in Paralegal Studies.  While in school, she was a recipient of the Pugh Paralegal and Baltimore Rotary Student Scholarship. She has interned at the Maryland Legal Aid bureau, and is currently pursuing her M.A. in Legal & Ethical Studies at the University of Baltimore. 

LaKisha Overton

LaKisha is currently in school at Kaplan University completing her Associates of Science Degree in Paralegal studies and anticipates graduating in July 2015. Prior to coming to MVLS she worked as the Education Coordinator at Dyslexia Tutoring Program for over 9 years. LaKisha also worked with victims of Domestic Violence at the House of Ruth Maryland for several years as the Intake Shelter Case Manager and Hotline Counselor. 


LaKisha is a student member of the Maryland Association of Paralegals and has been a volunteer member on the Board of Directors for almost a year for the Conflict Resolution Center of Baltimore County.

CITC Tax Credits Available in 2015 on a First Come, First Served Basis
MVLS has $34,000 in  Community Investment Tax Credits (CITC) from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to incentivize donations to support our work. 
Donations of $500 or more from eligible donors (Maryland residents and businesses that pay Maryland taxes) are eligible for credits.

CITC tax credits are equal to
50% of the value of the donated money, goods or real property and are in addition to Federal and State charitable tax deductions.  Two sample tax scenarios are below so you can see how a donation of $1,000 to MVLS may cost you less than $50. 
If you're interested in reducing your 2014 Maryland tax liability while helping MVLS provide access to justice to low and moderate income Marylanders, please contact Stephanie Austin at 443 451-4065 or


There's never been an easier way to support MVLS! Please consider joining the Sustainers Circle. Sustainers Circle members pledge a modest monthly donation to MVLS, either though automatic credit card transactions or monthly checks. 


These regular donations create a steady and predictable stream of revenue that ensures the consistency of our pro bono services and helps us reduce fundraising costs.  It's an easy, no-brainer way to support MVLS.   


Contact Stephanie Austin, at 443 451-4065 or for more information or sign up now!  

"Iris and Herbie's" Story:  
MVLS Volunteer Kathleen Skullney

"Iris and Herbie" live in the same modest home in Essex, MD that has been in Iris' family for decades.  Iris and her husband are both disabled and live on very limited income.  Some months are harder than others to make in ends meet and in 2012, they weren't able to pay all of their property taxes.  In the summer of 2014, Iris' daughter opened the front door and was served with papers stating their home had been sold at tax sale to the highest bidder. 

The investor that bought the tax sale certificate wanted them out...unless they could fork over thousands of dollars that included the amount of the original tax lien, plus an exorbitant interest rate, court fees, and attorney fees.  If Iris and Herbie couldn't pay, the investor could file for foreclosure and they would lose their home.

Iris was terrified.  She called MVLS and spoke to our Foreclosure and Consumer Law Project Team: housing counselor Sally Snowberger and attorney Lonni Summers.  Our team realized she needed a lawyer, fast.  They called MVLS volunteer Kathleen Skullney who agreed to take the case.


After reviewing all the case documents, Kathleen noticed some troubling things.  The investor who bought the tax sale certificate had filed some very fishy affidavits.  Dates and signatures were missing and a notary in Chicago had notarized documents for the Baltimore-based investor, among other issues. 

Most importantly, Kathleen discovered that Iris and Herbie had applied for and were awarded a tax credit for 2012 - the year that gave rise to the tax sale.  However, the tax credit was never applied to the 2012 tax year.  If the credit was appropriately applied, Iris and Herbie's payments in 2012 would have covered almost all of their tax bill. 

Kathleen got a letter from SDAT proving that the credits had been awarded in 2012 and convinced the county that it should have been applied to that year's bill.  In the meantime, Iris and Herbie scraped together enough money to pay the interest and lawyers' fees to the investor.   Their balance owed?  $0

Well, not so fast.  Baltimore County still claimed that Iris and Herbie owed them money for outstanding assessments.  Kathleen was incredulous.  In her review of the tax sale procedure, she concluded that the county should not be able to use the the assessment as the basis for a tax sale, since an assessment is not defined as property tax.  She filed a motion to deny judgment, hoping that the county would stop the foreclosure based on the fact that the tax bill was paid in full. 


In the meantime, Kathleen felt it was in Iris and Herbie's best interest to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  Herbie's medical bills, their mortgage payment and other bills were becoming onerous.  The tax sale judgment was a week away and if the court denied Kathleen's motion, they would lose their house.  Iris and Herbie may still lose their house as part of the bankruptcy, but at least their debts will also be dismissed and they would have more control over the sale of their home, and possibly could collect some of their home equity. 

MVLS Volunteer Doug Gorius


Kathleen called MVLS staff attorney Ellyn Riedl and asked if MVLS could find someone to do an emergency bankruptcy filing to stall or stop the judgment.  Paralegal Keisha Gibson got right on it.  With Iris' and Herbie's limited mobility in mind, she reached out to MVLS volunteer Doug Gorius who practices at Law Offices of Jaworski & Gorius in Essex.  Doug not only agreed to take the case, he also said he would travel to the client's home that week to collect information to file the petition.  Doug visited Iris and Herbie last week.  They are currently anxiously awaiting any news of Kathleen's motion in their tax sale case.


If you want to learn more about tax sales, click here to read a recent report published by the Abell Foundation about tax sales in Baltimore City or click here to read a recent Baltimore Sun article about this practice.  You can also listen to MVLS' Deputy Director talk about tax sales during an October 31st WYPR Midday Show with Dan Rodricks.  MVLS and Pro Bono Resource Center are also offering a free Tax Sale training for volunteers on February 17th if you'd like to learn how to help client like Iris and Herbie.
 MVLS' FY14 Annual Report is Available Online

Because of YOU, great things happen.  MVLS is pleased to share our 2014 annual report with you - our dedicated volunteers, donors and friends.  

This year's annual report profiles three clients and the dedicated volunteers who helped them resolve their legal problems.  Without their volunteer lawyer, it's unclear who would have custody of Sharon Ewing's grandson while his parents were incarcerated, Dorothy Mae Elliott would still be responsible for a $6,000 debt that wasn't hers, and Clara Johnson would be $900 poorer after her landlord unfairly withheld her security deposit.  


As you read their stories and the statistics about MVLS' impact in FY14 as highlighted in the report, please know that our organization's success in FY14 is only made possible because of you.

We extend our deepest gratitude for your support of our mission and thank you for continued generosity.  



Buy your ticket by February 14th and save 10%! 
Interested in becoming a sponsor and getting free benefit tickets and wide-spread publicity for your support of MVLS and pro bono?  Sponsorships range from $1,000-$10,000 and are mostly tax-deductible.  A full list of sponsorship benefits can be viewed here.  If you have your credit card ready, click here to sponsor the benefit.  If you'd like to pledge a sponsorship and pay later, click here and we'll send you an invoice.  Thank you!
TaxSaleTrainingFree Tax Sale Training for Attorneys

On February 17, MVLS and the Pro Bono Resource Center will offer a free training about helping homeowners avoid tax sale and tax foreclosure in Baltimore City.


When: February 17, 2015 9:00am-1:00pm 


Where: University of Baltimore School of Law 

1420 N. Charles Street Baltimore, MD 21201


Topics Covered: Overview of the tax sale and tax foreclosure process in Baltimore City, strategies for defense, statutory overview, and resources for clients.


Attendees must agree to take one tax sale pro bono case and attend one tax sale brief advice clinic within one year of the training.  All volunteers will receive case support, malpractice insurance, and access to mentors.  


To register, click here.

 MVLS Announces New Consumer Protection Project Clinic in Partnership with Pro Bono Resource Center
At the request of the Baltimore City District Court, MVLS recently launched a Consumer Protection Project.  Every Tuesday from 9am-12on MVLS staff and volunteers will be on-site at the District Court to provide legal review and advice to customers facing an affidavit judgement as a result of debt.  Working with the court, affidavit judgments are now filed three days a week in order to accommodate reaching as many clients as possible with a clinic. PBRC will staff the clinic on Thursdays.

We're looking for clinic volunteers.  Volunteers wills meet with clients for a 10-15 minute consultation and provide brief advice on matters including credit card debt, debt buyers, bail bonds, auto loans and landlord-tenant.  Volunteers will receive each complaint to determine if the proper documentation has been submitted to the court.  If opposing counsel is present, volunteers many negotiate a payment plan or other options for the defendant.  Volunteers will also accompany the defendant in submitting the Notice of Intent to Defend but will not enter an appearance.  No attorney client relationship is created outside of the clinic.  

Training is also available for affidavit judgments generally with specific information on handling debt buyers, auto repossession, bail bonds, credit cards, homeowners associations, landlord/tenant, and medical debts.

At last week's clinic, one of our amazing volunteers helped a client being sued by a debt buyer for credit card debt.  Our volunteer was able to talk to the attorney for the plaintiff to negotiate a payment plan, and the case was dismissed!  Results like this are much more likely for consumers if they have the help of an attorney.  Now, the client will have the opportunity to pay off the debt and avoid a judgment that would have negatively impacted her credit.


This is an ongoing project and we need volunteers every Tuesday. If you're interested in volunteering, please contact Ellyn Riedl at

MVLS is Hiring

MVLS has an immediate opening for a Staff Attorney our Adult Guardianship Program. This project serves disabled adults in Baltimore City and Baltimore County under a multi-year contract with the Maryland Department of Human Resources, Legal Services Program.  


Please visit our website for a complete job description and application instructions.  

Free Program on Expanding Your Practice Using Limited Scope Representation

On January 30th, Sue Tralia and the Practicing Law Institute will hold a free program on unbundling.  The program will be held at 12pm and will be made available online afterwards.


According to the promotional material, the program will provide an introduction to the rapidly changing practice of limited scope representation (often called "unbundling") in a family law context, including all of the fee agreements, forms and other materials you will need to practice limited scope representation competently, safely and profitably.


For more information and to register, click here.

Pro Bono/IOLTA Reports Due February 15

Attention attorneys!  If you are admitted to practice law in Maryland, you are required to file an annual report on pro bono activities and IOLTA accounts by February 15th.  If you're not sure how many pro bono hours you donated to MVLS in 2014, contact Pro Bono Program Manager Michelle Swift at 443 451-4068 or


You may fill out the paper forms you received in the mail or file the forms online by clicking  here.  Immediately after filing the forms online, you'll be given the opportunity to make a donation to a legal service provider.  If you're passionate about pro bono and appreciate the many ways MVLS makes your volunteer experience a positive one - whether it's the free trainings and mentors, our comprehensive intake process, our dedicated staff or paralegals or free malpractice insurance - please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our pro bono program.

2014 Pro Bono Year in Review and a Look Forward to 2015

The Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and the Center for Pro Bono has released it's 2014-15 Pro Bono Year in (P)Review.  The committee intends to "narrow the focus - to pro bono - and explore the many signs of increasing evolution and sophistication in how lawyers answer the call to serve those on society's margins" with a focus on technology, policy changes in lawyer practice rule and bar admission rules, the U.S. immigration crisis, LSC's emphasis on pro bono, and misc. other topics.  


Check out the (P)Review here.

Please update your records.  Our new address is:

 201 N. Charles Street, Suite 1400 
Baltimore, MD 21201

Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization.


MVLS is certified by Maryland Nonprofits as compliant with their Standards for Excellence for maintaining the highest standards of ethics and accountability in non-profit governance, management and operations.